29 November 2018 Council Meeting and Resolution
As signalled in previous updates, Council staff prepared a Proposed District Plan Change and a package of support measures for the Ecology and Landscapes project for consideration by Councillors.
The District Plan Committee and full Council met on Thursday 29 November 2018 to consider the Proposed District Plan Change on Significant Natural Areas (SNAs), Outstanding Natural Landscapes, Outstanding Natural Features and Coastal Natural Character (Plan Change 46).
Following the Committee meeting, the Council decided NOT to proceed with the District Plan Change in the proposed form. The resolution made by Council was as follows:
(i) acknowledges the distress this issue had caused in the community and unreservedly apologises for that;
(ii) acknowledges that the majority of SNAs have been well maintained by landowners in Lower Hutt City;
(iii) acknowledges the extensive work the officers have undertaken on this SNA issue over the past 12 months;
(iv) acknowledges the work of landowners, Forest and Bird, DOC and other interested community groups in this process;
(v) introduces a plan to protect and enhance all SNAs on publically owned land;
(vi) requires officers to work with private landowners who wish to further enhance SNAs on their land or further information with professional advice and guidance;
(vii) establishes a fund and criteria to assist Landowners who wish to further protect and enhance SNAs on their properties; and
(viii) establishes an Engagement Strategy with involvement from GWRC, landowners, Forest and Bird, mana whenua including Te Runanganui o Taranaki Whanui ki te Upoko o Te Ika a Maui and Waiwhetu Marae, other interest groups and the wider community to further highlight and lift awareness of the benefits to SNAs to community and environment.
11 December 2018 Council Resolution
At the Council meeting of 11 December 2018, clarifying the Council resolution from 29 November, Councillors resolved additionally as follows:
(i) requests officers to report back on an action plan to implement Council’s resolutions of 29 November 2018 to protect biodiversity and including any consequential changes to the District Plan; and
(ii) requests that the report shall specify any additional resources and funding required so that corresponding provisions can be considered for Council’s draft Annual Plan for 2019/2020.
Forest and Bird Environment Court Action
Very shortly after Council’s decision not to proceed with the full proposed District Plan Change, Forest and Bird applied to the Environment Court for declarations that Council has failed in its duty under the Resource Management Act to protect SNAs and has failed to implement the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement and the Regional Policy Statement.
Forest and Bird have also applied to the Court for an enforcement order requiring Council to notify Plan Change 46 as soon as practicable together with other orders as the Court sees fit.
Forest and Bird are seeking to lodge a public notice relating to its Environment Court action in the Dominion Post. This Public Notice would advise that persons who think their property might be affected should contact Hutt City Council to confirm. Any directly affected person would have 20 working days to notify the Environment Court if they wish to be a party to the proceedings.
The Court will determine and advise of the process in due course.
Council is taking legal advice on how to best respond to these actions.
Implementing Council’s Resolutions
Council is currently working out how best to implement the Council resolutions and has already taken some steps such as adopting a revised governance structure. As this work progresses, we will provide you with more information about how you can participate as a private landowner in any future processes.
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